Developing flexible agility

Photo by Pok Rie on Unsplash

There is one truth in all projects.

It won't go exactly to plan.

No matter how much careful planning and preparation you do, there will always be something that means you have to amend the original plan. These changes are often minor, and you can quickly adjust. But adapting continuously and sometimes making significant adjustments can feel exhausting and demotivating, particularly over long periods.

You need to develop flexible agility. 

I like to think of it as two parts.

Flexible as you need to adapt to the circumstances that will inevitably happen that you often can't control. 

Agility as when the change happens; You need to lean in, move fast and execute a new strategy.

You need both to be able to succeed over the long run. If you are just flexible, you might be open to change, but you can't capitalise on it. With just agility, you are able to move fast but could be moving in the wrong direction. 

How can you develop your flexible agility? 

Flexible principles

Be a surfer and ride the waves

Part of the battle of being flexible is accepting that you can't control everything. Events will happen that will disrupt your plans. Being able to ride the waves of change is far easier than trying to fight against the current. 

Pro surfers recognise this and understand that they have no power over the ocean. They merely adapt to the environment around them. If they didn't, they would become physically exhausted very quickly and end up drinking lots of saltwater. Metaphorically you will as well. 

Part of the challenge of adapting to changes is detaching the emotional baggage you feel when change happens.  You might feel angry, frustrated or confused when things happen that you didn't anticipate—accepting that this is just a situation and a new reality is critical. If you don't, you can quickly get emotionally involved, and it can become a burden.

Be open-minded 

Change can be scary at times. We get used to the processes, habits and rituals that exist. It's only normal. When change happens, we feel uneasy, even if we think it might be a good outcome in the long run. Having an open mind and being willing to see the alternative and give it a go is half of the battle.

Sometimes, we think it's a change that is unnecessary or maybe even destructive. In these scenarios, we must voice our opinions early and ensure that our views and the reasons behind them are understood.  But sometimes, that change happens anyway. It's out of your control. You can take a lesson from Jeff Bezos principles and 'disagree and commit' in these scenarios. New changes, particularly ones that impact many people, need to be given enough time and support to be reasonably evaluated. Like a small fire, you have to provide it with enough oxygen to get started. 

Focus on your health 

Your health should be the number one priority always. Without this, nothing else will matter. You won't be flexible or agile as your body and mind won't be in the right place. Research has shown that your health has a solid relationship with your mood and memory. Developing small habits that enforce both physical and mental health can have a profound impact on your life. Small steps like going for a morning walk before work, listening to a mediation podcast or ensuring you keep up with friends can push you in the right direction.

Agile principles 

Be organised

 Having all of the information that you need at your fingertips is an underrated superpower. Information is abundant. Having it organised, accessible and actionable will give you an edge that allows you to navigate your environment and act quickly. Having a personal system for capturing to do's, writing notes and knowing where everyday resources are is essential. 

Be pragmatic 

When speed is involved, perfectionism is not your friend. Being willing to move forward even if you know that something isn't 100% right can be challenging if you're always looking at the fine details. But in the long run, you are far better taking those small steps forward rather than waiting for perfectionism. 

I know this article that is not perfect. There could be some odd phrasing and maybe a few typos. But I'll choose to publish as you have to be willing to move forward. Otherwise, you get trapped in a state of paralysis.

Be willing to delegate 

It can be tempting to handle all situations, particularly if you feel you can do a good job. But it's not scalable.  Handing the responsibility to someone else will free up your time and allow your team to achieve more.

Final thoughts on flexible agility 

In the 21st century, if there is one certainty, it's that change will happen. Sometimes in predictable patterns and other times in entirely unexpected ways. Having flexible agility is a critical skill that will allow you to thrive in a world of constant change. 

Flexible agility is a mindset. Something that you can develop over time. The more change you get exposed to, the easier it will be to thrive in these environments.